Every tennis player when they step on court believes that they can defeat their opponent. Whether or not that belief is based in reality is another story. The likelihood of a lowly ranked player defeating a top ranked player may be slim; however, if you have watched enough tennis, you know it can happen and has happened.
Expect the nerves and tension
Yet no amount of practice can simulate a real live tennis match for the simple reasons that when you practice you are not playing against your opponent nor in front of a crowd, which can sometimes favor your opponent. Thus, you must be prepared to counter the negative psychological and physical effects that the occasion will have on your game. The initial nerves are to be expected; however, if you have a quick ritual you can employ to calm your nerves, you will get the advantage over your opponent.
Have a calming ritual
Many tennis players focus on the strings of their tennis racquet, others close their eyes and take a deep breath, still others walk to the back of the court turning their back to their opponent while repeating some mantra or visualizing some pre-decided imagery. With time, you will develop and perfect what works best for you.
Play outside your comfort zone
Play outside your comfort zone if you want to improve your chance of winning the match. This does not mean going for every shot, it simply means, capitalizing on your opportunities when they are presented. Yet, this also does not mean that you let your opponent dictate play. What it means is sometimes you must change up your strategy and see how you opponent responds. This only works if you are comfortable with a different tactic because serving and volleying if you traditionally are a grinder from the baseline with no net skills is asking for trouble.
Change your tactics for success
Learn to take time away from your opponent by taking the ball early and utilizing the swing volley; force your opponent to make difficult shots from uncomfortable positions; be unpredictable by changing up the pace of your shots; change up your return position; and finally, try the occasional drop shot. If you are willing to employ some of these tactics and are physically fit enough to hang in the rallies, you may just catch your opponent off guard and walk away with the upset victory.
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